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Test rooms to study human comfort in buildings: a review of controlled experiments and facilities


Occupants’ comfort perception affects building energy consumptions. To improve the understanding of human comfort, which is crucial to reduce energy demand, laboratory experiments with humans in controlled environments (test rooms) are fundamental, but their potential depends on the characteristic of each research facility. Nowadays, there is no common understanding for definitions, concepts, and procedures related to human comfort studies in test rooms. Identifying common features would allow standardising test procedures, reproducing the same experiments in different contexts, and sharing knowledge and test possibilities. This review identifies 187 existing test rooms worldwide: 396 papers were systematically selected, thoroughly reviewed, and analysed in terms of performed experiments and related test room details. The review highlights a rising interest in the topic during the last years since 46% of related papers has been published between 2016 and 2020. A growing interest in non-thermal sensory domains (such as visual and air quality) and multi-domain studies about occupant whole comfort emerged from the results. These research trends have entailed a change in the way test rooms are designed, equipped and controlled, progressively becoming more realistic inhabitable environments. Nevertheless, some lacks in comfort investigation are highlighted: some continents (like Africa and South America) are found to be underrepresented, while involved subjects are mainly students performing office tasks. This review aspires to guide scientists and professionals toward the improved design or the audit of test room experimental facilities, especially in countries and climate zones where human comfort indoors is under-studied.


Academic literature review


  • Research Council of Norway (RCN) / 257660




  • Anna Laura Pisello
  • Ilaria Pigliautile
  • Maedot Andargie
  • Christiane Berger
  • Philomena Bluyssen
  • Salvatore Carlucci
  • Giorgia Chinazzo
  • Zsofi Deme
  • Bing Dong
  • Matteo Favero
  • Ali Ghahramani
  • George Havenith
  • Arsalan Heydarian
  • D. Kastner
  • Meng Kong
  • Dusan Licina
  • Yapan Liu
  • Alessandra Luna Navarro
  • Ardeshir Mahdavi
  • Alessandro Nocente
  • Marcel Schweiker
  • Marianne Touchie
  • Marika Vellei
  • Filippo Vittori
  • Andreas Wagner
  • Alan Wang
  • Wei Shen


  • Italy
  • University of Perugia
  • University of Toronto
  • Vienna University of Technology
  • Delft University of Technology
  • Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • The Cyprus Institute
  • Northwestern University
  • Budapest University of Technology and Economics
  • Syracuse University
  • National University of Singapore
  • Loughborough University
  • Clinch Valley College, University of Virginia
  • Germany
  • Swiss Federal Institute of Technology of Lausanne
  • University of Cambridge
  • SINTEF Community / Architecture, Materials and Structures
  • Aachen University of Technology
  • University of La Rochelle
  • Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
  • University College London



Published in

Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews







View this publication at Cristin